AFLW U18 Championship previews: Eastern Allies

IN the first of two previews ahead of the first round of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, we take a look at New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW-ACT) and Tasmania who clash tomorrow and Sunday in their two games which will help determine the final Eastern Allies squad. The Eastern Allies then fly to Queensland to take on the Central Allies, Vic Country and Vic Metro from July 8-12. Below we take a look at some of the key players to watch.

Hailee Baldwin (Tigers/Tasmania)

Baldwin has been named captain of Tasmania and is considered a leader on and off the field. Not a huge ball winner, averaging the 7.7 disposals at NAB League Girls level, Baldwin is a big tackler. She earned the title of Tasmanian captain despite being a middle-ager and not being eligible to be drafted until next year. At 169cm, Baldwin is a good size for a developing player and will be a key cog in Tasmania’s midfield.

Tahlia Bortignon (Clarence/Tasmania)

The talented athlete is still developing, but has been one to watch since being named for the Eastern Allies last year. For Clarence her pace and agility are areas that standout, and she represented Tasmania Devils in all three NAB League Girls games. With so few having experience at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Bortignon’s experience will be invaluable to her younger side.

Lillian Doyle (Grafton/NSW-ACT)

Of the NSW/ACT players who took to the field in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, the one we have most looked forward to seeing as a top-ager is the talented Doyle. She booted three goals in a best afield effort last year, two of which came in the last term to guarantee the side a victory on the opening day. She had to build up some consistency in her game, but her raw talent on that day and throughout the championships was evident and she looms as a dangerous forward for NSW/ACT and the Eastern Allies. One of four members of the AFL Women’s Academy.

Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/NSW-ACT)

A middle-age member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Evans was touted as one to watch as a bottom-ager given her ability to use either side of her body to dispose of the ball cleanly. Evans is likely to play as centre half-forward, providing a contest for the smaller forwards to rove to and create opportunities. While she is still a year away, she is another year more experienced and could be the X-factor inside 50 with Doyle who provides a spark.

Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

Another player who was touted by the Rams as one to watch for this corresponding series twelve months ago, has lived up to expectations with her performances in the NAB League Girls competition. She was able to have such an impact on the Bushrangers side that she could well have pushed for Vic Country selection as well had she been eligible. Favell never stopped running through the season and just had a massive work rate to get from defence to attack within a play, winning plenty of the ball and setting her teammates up. Expect her to rotate between the middle and on a wing, running in transition and burning off her opponents with either speed or endurance depending on the time in the game. Is a clutch player as well and one that could go forward and kick an important goal like she did against the Dandenong Stingrays late in the season.

Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles/NSW-ACT)

If Doyle was the one we were excited to see again, then Georgia Garnett was a close second with the hard-nosed and uncompromising midfielder with great athletic traits, being impressive last year. She has a wicked side-step and while it was noted she was not a huge accumulator last year, she rarely turned over the ball, with neat skills and great decision making. She also copped a knock on the final day and got straight back up. One of the key midfielders for the Eastern Allies this year, and another member of the AFL Women’s Academy.

Netty Garlo (Clarence/Tasmania)

Raw but talented is the best way of describing Garlo, who would no doubt have a very nice package of highlights with her closing speed and tackling pressure memorable from last year. Still a middle-ager, Garlo now stands at 170cm, and will still only be 16 by the time the championships roll around, having debuted last year as a 15-year-old trying to match it with some 18-year-olds. Garlo managed two games at NAB League Girls level for the Devils, and while she is still ironing out her consistency and game sense, there is no doubting her great combination of speed and hardness.

Chelsea Hargreaves (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

Hargreaves was a really reliable defender for the Murray Bushrangers, and someone who was composed under pressure and used the ball well coming out of the back 50. A quality addition to the NSW/ACT and Eastern Allies mix, Hargreaves plays a similar role to Eloise Ashley-Cooper who is now at Essendon VFLW after having impressed at the championships. While she only averaged the nine disposals this year, Hargreaves does not waste them, and had multiple rebounds in four of her seven games.

Zoe Hurrell (Sydney Uni Bombers/NSW-ACT)

Tasted what it is like playing at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships last year, booting a goal and was named among the best in the Eastern Allies’ win over Central Allies on the opening day. With another year under her belt and showing she is capable of kicking a goal, Hurrell will be keen to impress in the Series One this year and represent the Eastern Allies for a second consecutive year at the championships.

Jordyn Jolliffe (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)

Having played through the Rams program for years and was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy alongside Alyce Parker, Jolliffe has a point to prove at these championships, having missed out due to injury last year. Playing as a full-forward, Jolliffe is difficult to beat in the air and is an imposing figure in attack. She was a key player for Bendigo Pioneers in the NAB League Girls competition, either slotting goals or allowing the ball to fall to crumbers from her marking contests. As an overager, Jolliffe will provide invaluable experience to the team, and combine with Evans up forward.

Mia King (Launceston/Tasmania)

The star player of Tasmania, and a good case for the Eastern Allies Most Valuable Player (MVP), along with a number of others on this list. King is the midfielder you cannot help but notice because of her ability to find the football and have an impact in all thirds of the ground. King made the All-Australian extended squad last year, the only Tasmanian to do so in a team that featured North Melbourne twins, Chloe and Libby Haines. Despite being 165cm, King plays taller than that and is able to crack in and win the contested ball in the air or at ground level, and then spread when required to win the ball on the outside and move it in transition. She averaged 19.7 disposals, 4.7 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s in the NAB League Girls competition for the Tasmanian Devils.

Alice Mitchell (Willoughby Mosman Swans/NSW-ACT)

Teammates at local level with Zoe Hurrell, Mitchell will again look to join her in the Eastern Allies side for the 2019 championships. At 180cm, Mitchell provides a tall target around the ground, and can play through the midfield as well as at either end. She not only has great strength, but good vision and presents constantly for her teammates. Will be a great addition as as utility to the team and slot in wherever she is needed, and have an impact.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

Was a standout in Tasmania’s double-up weekend against Western Jets and Eastern Rangers, averaging 12 touches and 6.5 rebounds coming out of defence. Her work in the back half was very impressive and eye-catching and remarkably, the talented 175cm defender has only just turned 16. It means she has another couple of years left in the system, but is good enough to be competing with players a couple of years older. One to watch over the coming years, and one of the better tall defenders coming through.

Hannah Stewart (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)

Stewart is one of the better stories when it comes to hard work and dedication, travelling three hours to head down from Hay to train at the Pioneers’ Swan Hill base, and that is not even including time taken to get to weekend matches. While still inconsistent, her best was very good as we saw against Gippsland Power in Bendigo’s big win up at Epson Huntly Reserve. She had 19 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and booted 1.2, one of the best on the ground with Brooke Hards and Elizabeth Snell. Her work between midfield and forward is where she does best, and while she only reached double-figure disposals on three occasions, she used the ball very well and is a very good runner with high endurance.

Camilla Taylor (Launceston/Tasmania)

Another key forward who could be used in attack after experiencing the national carnival last year, Taylor works hard to provide leads and a target inside 50, and not only provides opportunities for herself, but others as well. She has a long kick which was noted last year, and it was just a case of lowering the eyes at times, but she is a danger to opposition defenders, often forcing them to give away free kicks by trying to restrict her.

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